Tue, Sep 10, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Healthy exports boost trade surplus

LOOKING OUTWARD:An expert said export growth showed the nation was on track to recovery, but boosting competitiveness remained an issue of concern

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Monthly exports might continue their year-on-year acceleration for the rest of this year, following last month’s exports growing for the fourth consecutive month from a year earlier, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

Outbound shipments totaled US$25.64 billion last month, an increase of 3.6 percent from a year ago and 1.3 percent from a month ago, which was also an improvement from the 1.6 percent year-on-year expansion in July, the ministry said in a report.

For the first eight months of the year, exports totaled US$201.39 billion, up 2.5 percent from a year ago, the report showed.

“Demand from major export markets remained steady last month,” Yeh Maan-tzwu (葉滿足), director of the ministry’s statistics department, told a press conference.

Shipments of electronic products totaled US$7.66 billion last month, up 6.5 percent from a year earlier, marking the third-highest level in history and further supporting the momentum of overall outbound shipments, Yeh said.

External demand for chemical products also showed a 25.2 percent expansion to US$1.86 billion last month from a year earlier, its third straight month to post a year-on-year growth, the report’s data showed.

Exports this month may reach the level of a traditional peak period to stand at about US$27 billion, Yeh said, adding that would achieve the latest forecast of 1.6 percent year-on-year growth in the July-to-September period made by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

If additional instability in the global economy remains absent, Yeh remained optimistic that monthly exports may continue its acceleration in the following months.

Hong Kong-based ANZ Research senior economist Raymond Yeung (楊宇霆) said the results of exports last month indicated Taiwan is on track to an improving external outlook.

However, boosting export competitiveness is a perpetual concern for an export-oriented economy like Taiwan, which would not like to see the local currency strengthen too much.

“We expect the central bank to maintain an ‘orderly functioning’ of the currency exchange market,” Yeung said, adding that the latest export results will have a limited immediate impact on the central bank’s policy stance.

Imports last month dropped 1.2 percent from a year earlier and 4.7 percent from the previous month to US$21.06 billion, the ministry’s report showed.

The major factor behind the year-on-year decline in imports was slowing inbound demand for capital equipment, which fell 7.7 percent year-on-year to US$2.73 billion.

The ministry attributed the slowing imports in capital equipment to higher-than-expected private investments in the first half of this year, which may lead companies to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward its next round of capital equipment investments.

As a result, the trade surplus widened to US$4.51 billion last month, up US$1.15 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.

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